Frazzles is a nickname and Benji is a nickname. I got the name Frazzles from this funny video about a crazy squirrel named Frazzles, and I liked the name. Frazzles is an alternative name to Frankie, and Benji is an alternative name to Benjamin. They didn't really like their real names, so hey. What can I say. They stuck to the nicknames their parents gave them.
I kind of picture these two characters as the 'yo man' ganster types. You know, good mates – good friends. Close buddies. You know? To the story!
The moonlight is pretty. I can see it from my cell. Okay, my bedroom.
But it doubles as a cell.
Okay truth be told I'm bored. Really bored. How else to amuse oneself but by being obnoxious? Really, ask yourself that. Don't tell me you've never been mean for the fun of it?
I slip out of my bed covers and slink across the floor, unhinging my window with a grinding snap. Careful, now... Aha! Success! One foot is positioned securely on the roof tiles. With a swift motion I duck through and stand on the roof. A car passes by the back fence with a smooth glamour and a possum crawls around a tree trunk, making some leaves rustle. The moon is big, and bright.
I lean back against my bedroom; my legs sprawled out on the cool tiles. It was late at night, I knew that, but that's what I liked about it. The world (or most of it) was fast asleep and it was very peaceful outside - if not a bit chilly.
I go back in my bedroom and return outside with a jacket wrapped tight around me. I can see my breath as mist in front of me; that's how cold it is. But it's bearable. My butt goes numb after ten minutes of sitting there, but it's worth it. I quietly move across the roof and reach the tree with our resident possum.
Please don't attack me, I beg silently, hoping poor Larry would leave me be like it has done almost every other time… One time when I got scratched in the face and was grounded after waking the neighbors from screaming. I have some scars across my face. At first I thought they were ugly but I've grown to like them; after all, how many people have scars like mine? Nobody I know.
With a soft fump I land on the grassy turf of my backyard and try not to wake anybody. I spend a few minutes, poised, listening for any movement inside the house. Nothing.
I creep across the lawn and when I reach the back fence I push one of the wooden planks and it creeks and tilts, revealing an exit. Being the sneaky devil I am I squeeze through it (horray for being skinny) and sprint light-footed across the road towards the park. We're lucky because of that. We live next to a park.
After threading past tall oaks and ferns I arrive at a sloping path and hurry down it. Normally I would cut the soles of my feet on the tiny rocks and bits of glass but I've built up a resistance and my feet are tough. When I reach the bottom of the slope I arrive at a park-bench; it's surrounded by beer bottles and old packets of food and I pick them up with a screwed up nose and dump them in a bin nearby with a smash. Here. He said he would meet me here.
I check my watch and brush over the seat before sitting down. The blue paint is curling and flakes, so you have to be careful where you sit; but some people don't bother and get it all over their pants. Makes them look like blue-butted baboons or something.
I'm here to meet up with an old friend of mine. By odd chance (his parents divorce) he moved out of the city to California. He lives with his mum and he's come down here to see his dad – or that's what he told his mother. He really wants to see me.
He would be seeing his dad though.
He doesn't want to.
'Frazzles,' says a voice teasingly and I feel gloved digits cover my eyes. I pull his hands off and spin around.
'Benji,' I say, and I jump around the seat and fling my arms around his neck, pushing my body into his in the most friendly way possible. He rests his hands around my waist and we stay like that for a good ten, fifteen minutes before I pull my face out of his throat and say, 'man, I've missed you.'
'Yeah, I know. I've missed you too,' Benji acknowledges and gives me a tight squeeze. 'No problems getting out, I see.'
'Of course not. You know I'm as sly as a rat,' I say and hit his arm playfully. He gives it a small rub with a grin and then sighs and stares at me. He looks amazed I'm alive and I snatch the beanie off his head and ram it onto my own, the black fabric pulling over my eyes for a moment before I adjust it. 'What's up with you?' I ask him.
He sits down next to me and turns to face me, smiling. 'You, that's all. I've missed you,' Benji knows he isn't fooling anybody and he quickly adds. 'Okay, I'm worried about seeing my dad.'
'Why? What's wrong with him?' I ask and Benji laughs for awhile before answering.
I change course. 'Yeah, I guess... okay,' I say, 'so he's a jerk, big diff! We see jerks every day and everywhere. So he wants to show you his girlfriend, what's wrong with that?'
'Well, for one, the girl's a total whore.'
'So good for your dad, he gets some fine ass.'
'Frazzles!' Benji growls. 'You're missing the point.'
'Sorry, man…' I mumble. 'You know, Benji… you could really play this to your advantage.'
'Yeah, yeah, I know. You know he's going to taunt me and stuff that I don't have a girlfriend –'
'What? You told me you met this pretty girl in the US. What happened?'
'It was only a fling, it doesn't matter, it's not important,' Benji said evasively, then he looked at me intently again. 'I need to ask you a favor.'
I nod and give him my full attention. 'Tell me. Tell me what it is. I'll do it. I swear to god.'
Benji snorts and shakes his head in bemusement. 'You say that now…'
There is a pause for a moment and I yank the beanie off my head and gently tease it over his dark locks of hair. I smile at him and touch his knee in encouragement.
'What's wrong, Benji?'
I want to say more but I know I can't. I have to let him speak. I look at his lips, waiting for him to speak. Waiting for him to purse his lips into a consonant, a vowel. Anything.
'Will you marry me?'
My mouth gapes open for a moment and I look around to see if anybody heard; like a kookaburra or something. Those birds can laugh.
'I can't marry you, I mean, where did this… what… are you serious? Benji? You want to get married? We haven't even gone out or anything or-'
I am stopped. He pushes his hand over my mouth and scoots closer to me, his eyes hard and fierce against my eyes that have suddenly begun flexing with anxiety. Was he serious? Yes, he was.
'Look, Frazzles,' Benji was saying, and I couldn't hold eye contact. I couldn't. 'We've been friends for like ever, I know, and this is really jumping something on you but I can't be with anybody else. Not with any other girls, not with any of my mates. You're my girl and my mate and we've got to stick together, you know? If we get engaged-'
'But boyfriend and girlfriend, Benji, not fiancés!' I say earnestly. 'I mean, using your common sense for a second. We have to get the reigns on a simple relationship first before we jump into marriage. You know what I mean?'
'Yeah… Yeah I know what you mean,' says Benji, and we go silent for a very long time. It's not an uncomfortable silence either. The air is thick with fog and dew and the sun is starting to go up. The air is clearly aligning that Benji is thinking, and thinking hard. I have a feeling I know what this is about.
'You wanna impress your dad, don't you?'
Benji looks relieved and he breathes out heavily, as if that was his cue to finally breathe. 'Y-yeah. I want to show him that his own man can go out and get married, you know. It's not just him,' his voice was wrought with anger and I felt a deep compassion for him. Similarly, I had such a relationship with my mother, and a good one with my father. It's strange how these things turn out. In this way we know what the other is going through. It's very… supportive. Comforting almost.
'Don't you think you will impress your dad more by having a good girlfriend?' I suggest and press my hand against his arm. He is very tense, I can feel it. 'C'mon Benji; you know we can't get married.'
Benji grunts in acknowledgement. I know he does that when he has to accept something he doesn't want to. He does it a lot. I climb into his lap and rest on his thighs, staring deep into his eyes. As a girlfriend, I could get used to this now. I decide to distract him from thinking about his father.
'How long have you liked me?'
Benji looks at me up and down; probably a bit frustrated that I'm wearing such a thick coat. 'A long time,' he pauses and then chuckles. 'You know I don't need to answer that. I think we both know how long we've liked each other.'
That was true. Back in high school Benji had tried to get with this girl when he was rejected right in front of everybody. It was a humiliating experience. At this point he had looked at me, in confusion. Like, it shouldn't have been this way, and we had stared at each other for a long while and then it clicked in place.
We both knew it, but we didn't ever say it. We don't need to. But we were always a bit frightened of going too far, which is strange for us. We're very comfortable with each other. I think maybe we were frightened of what would happen if we split up. Would we still be friends? You know, that whole dilemma. It's a bit silly really… but it's only natural. You know how it is.
A bird starts singing nearby. A dull cawing. I think it's a crow. I stand up and look out the distance, past the trees. It was getting light. Benji gets to his feet and puts an arm around my waist and I turn. He pushes my short light ginger hair out of my eyes and looks at them. Not in them, not through them, at them.
'Nothing... I was just noticing that you had a bit of brown in your eyes. I mean, there's some green, and there's some brown. It's mixed together a bit…' he smiles gently. 'It's very pretty.'
I lose my throat in my chest for the first time. I find myself holding onto my breath and letting it go, almost desperately. Like a drowning person. Like I had forgotten how to breath and was learning how to do it again.
'Did you ever get a boyfriend while I was gone?' he asked and I gave a half arsed shrug.
'Nah. Not really. I mean, they tried, and I tried, but it never worked. I was always thinking about what you were doing, y'know.' He nods in understanding and I see in his eyes. Yes, he does know. 'What's it like in America, when I'm not there?'
'Lonely of course,' Benji replies simply. 'It wouldn't be any other way.' He stares at me and breaths. 'Lord... Frazzles, I've missed you so much.'
We hug tightly for a moment and then pull away. Our chins are close, and we're looking at the eyes, and the lips. Oh, I know what's going to happen. So does he.
In the near darkness of morning, a crow caws, and we share our first kiss. And boy, was it passionate. Kind of hesitant at first because we were both thinking, "Holy crap is this really happening?" but we kind of weren't. In moments like that you get caught up in the moment, and focus on what is actually happening. But like I said, it was passionate. I don't want to go in the gory detail, because this is simply a narration and it can only show so much, but let's say that was the best kiss I had ever had in my life.
To be perfectly honest, it was the only real kiss. Sure, I'd kissed guys before, but not like this. It was different. This was special. I guess all those other guys I made out with I wished it were Benji … I don't know why we hid it for so long. It almost seemed foolish now.
After we kiss we hold each other in our arms and think about how sad it will be when we part again. Not another year, not another. I couldn't bear it.
'Can't you stay here?'
Benji shakes his head.
'I have things to do in America,' he says. 'My studies for one.'
'Yeah, you're going to be the big man. The big podiatrist. You'd have to smell a lot of stinkin' feet.'
Benji laughed and when he did my head bumped on his chest. But it was nice and warm there.
'There was more to it when I broke my foot, you know. It puts it in perspective how much you need it.'
'Yeah… Yeah, I guess,' I agreed half heartily. 'Sorry…'
'Nah it's all good. What are you doing, again?'
'Vet,' I say simply and firmly.
'See, you want to help the animals so your…' he stops for a moment and considers whether to say it.
'It's okay, you know. I'm okay.'
Truth be told my pet collie died a few years ago. I was heart broken. She had died from a brain tumor one time. I didn't even know how bad the problem was until she stopped moving, my poor collie. Poor Cassie. That dog was great. Really great.
'Now what do we do?' I ask.
We look at each other, share a quick kiss, then walk up to my house to sneak through the back. We'll go to my dad's and then his dad's. We'll tell them that we're boyfriend and girlfriend. Maybe one day we'd return and say we were fiancés, and then husband and wife. If my mum wasn't in Portugal she would know too, but she doesn't care. Which is fine with me... my dad's wonderful. And I love him. And I love Benji, too.
Crunch… crunch… crunch… That's the sound of my feet and his shoes against the dried leaves, grass and rocks. And I hope, and pray, that we'd be crushing the world under our feet from now on, instead of being the fragile leaves on the ground; unsure what they want or how to get there. We were invincible, then. We are the invincible Benji and Frazzles… we are unstoppable! We can not be defeated! I punch the air in triumpth and trip for a moment, but I keep walking, and Benji helps me up and holds my hand. We are…
I hope it stays that way forever.